I Don't Have My Poop Emoji Together

Every night before bed, I believe I’m going to eat breakfast the next day on my back deck. A...

Every night before bed, I believe I’m going to eat breakfast the next day on my back deck. A leisurely morning, including toast and eggs and hashbrowns, with a fruit smoothie in one hand and a piping hot coffee in the other, topped with a big cheesy smile on my face. 

Dude, I can’t even wake up to my alarm clock.  

Every morning I sleep in until about 11 minutes before I need to leave the house, grab a banana on my way out the door, eat it in my car, and leave the peel in my cup holder as I gracefully stumble into the office. 

Nothing like coming back to that sweet aroma (the one that makes me want to gag) of sweaty, brown banana peel in my car. 

It’s especially fragrant on hot days. 

You know that thing inside you that makes you able to get stuff done? That thing that makes you aware of the time and feel the appropriate level of pressure to get going with your day?

The button on that thing inside of me must be broken because I’ve never had breakfast on my porch before work.

I used to work at a high school as a campus minister. The majority of my job was talking to teenage girls about life, both mine and theirs. We connected really well, especially when I was honest with them about my ____. It always grounded me that they looked up to me even after I shared my flaws with them.

But sometimes they’d say something that made me wildly uncomfortable:

“You’re perfect, Miss Mastroianni.”

My external response was always calm, reassuring that I was far from perfect, but affirming that life with Jesus was pretty dang good.

My internal response was rather… violent.

I AM THE OPPOSITE OF IDEAL HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU GET THAT IDEA WHAT MAKES YOU THINK I’M PERFECT!?!?

I wanted to squash that image of me as “perfect Miss Mastroianni” for those girls. I didn’t want them to see some unrealistic person they couldn’t relate to. I didn’t want them to think that in order to be Christian they had to be sinless or have this perfect prayer life or do all the right things all the time.

Because the truth is that it’s hard to follow Jesus. 

Yes, I’ve come to know Him and I love Him. But in no way am I free of sin.

I am Catholic and I struggle, like anyone else. I still shake my fist at God sometimes. I still find myself choosing things that aren’t conducive to how a Christian should be living.

When I’m late for work or a coffee with friends (or basically anything on my calendar) I tend to lie about why I’m late. The truth? The whole time management gene is not found anywhere in my DNA code. I don’t leave enough time to drive to my destination, or I think I can do just one more thing before leaving (and one thing turns to two or 10), or I find myself in whatever the heck last minute panic happens before I walk out the door, like the classic coffee on the pants situation.

But I have an ugly streak of pride. 

I don’t want people to think I’m incompetent, or bad at… well, anything. I always want to appear like I’m put together.

Those menial things, like being late, actually just show how not perfect I am. Somehow I’ve come to believe that of COURSE people will always wait for me, which is incredibly inconsiderate and selfish. And I don’t want people to know that self-centered side of me.

So I lie.

Both about the little seemingly inconsequential things, like the reason behind why I’m late, and the bigger, weigh-on-my-heart things, like the secret stuff I struggle with that I don’t want anyone to know about.

And here’s the thing: I work in ministry. I’ve been called a “professional Christian” before, which makes me cringe, and honestly just sounds dumb. Somehow I think I’ve been elevated above “regular Christians” (why that’s a thing I don’t even know) because the way I make money is directly tied to the faith I practice.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned, especially working in the Church?

It’s not about having my life together. It’s about having it exposed to God.

We’re in this “nice and tidy” culture of everyone just trying so freakin hard to have it all together - myself included - that we convince ourselves and others that we’re all okay, and it’s just exhausting. It’s a distraction from what really matters: the heart, all its messiness and pain. I’m not justifying the pile of dishes that have been in the kitchen sink for the past week, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the sin and the shame and the insecurities all of us have.

It’s not about having my life together. It’s about having it exposed to God.

I’ve learned that my weakness is a channel of God’s strength. I’ve learned that His grace is at work in my life, slowly cleaning me up, and setting me free from sin and shame. I’ve learned that my sin is attractive to God.

What. 

How!?

Somewhere down the line, I believed that in order to be a “good girl,” I had to have my ____ together. Or, if I was a “good Christian,” if I behaved a certain way, God would love me more.  

I thought my sin was a hindrance to God’s mercy, but I learned it was the ticket. God’s love is where sin and mercy meet.

God doesn't look at me and see my hypocrisy, my lies, my deceit, my impurities, my lust, and my pride. He looks at me and says, “You are mine. You are my daughter.”  

Sin doesn't mean you're bad. It just means you're looking for satisfaction. 

And that satisfaction only comes from God.

There’s a temptation to hold onto my sins as if they’re meant to be a part of me, to keep lying and doing things that don’t bring me true life. Leaving behind past sins - the habits and things that bring me comfort and surface level satisfaction - is hard. 

But it’s worth it. 

And it can only be done through the grace of God; the more I surrender my life to God and run to Him for mercy, the more strength I have to turn from sin. Grace covers a multitude of sins and wrongdoings. 

Grace changes us.

Even after all these years of learning and relearning that lesson, of being shaped by grace, I still find myself trying to cover up my failings. I’m prone to wander away from God, but He continues to seek after me. God’s nature is to go after His sons and daughters.

I thought my sin was a hindrance to God’s mercy, but I learned it was the ticket.

He reminds me that my sins do not define me. They’re part of this human journey, this struggle. He doesn’t love me less because I’m not perfect. 

I don’t have my ____ together and that’s okay because in my day to day life, between cleaning up smelly banana peels and vowing to wake up to my first alarm, I’m both reminded of my sin and, more importantly and in the same breath, I’m reminded of His mercy.